Friday, July 21, 2017

Parliamentary commission calls for new water law

Already feeling the combined stresses of climate change and an increasing population, Myanmar’s clean water needs to be protected by a national water policy, parliament was told yesterday.

The Commission for the Assessment of Legal Affairs and Special Issues called on the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw to enact national legislation to address water resources management. Members of the commission pressed lawmakers, citing the need for urgent action if an adequate supply of drinking water is to be assured for the future.

“A national water law must be enacted to ensure the proper management and use of water resources. There is an urgent need to firstly draft a national water policy, which will set out solid basic principles,” lawmaker U Khin Maung Win (NLD; Lanmadaw) said on the commission’s behalf.

A nation-level water policy was previously drafted under the administration of then-president U Thein Sein, but the Commission for the Assessment of Legal Affairs and Special Issues believes that amendments to this policy are required, including the removal of a provision which states that the country’s regions and states will have the right to draft their own water policies and laws.

The commission advocated that the management of water resources should be centralised and that taxes on water should be collected from factories and the agricultural industry in order to offset the government’s management costs.

Clearer demarcation of the country’s territorial seas and rivers as well as a crackdown on water pollution caused by the mining and forestry industries were among the other measures called for by the legislative commission in order to prevent future deterioration of Myanmar’s water resources.

Despite stating that the country’s water resources were under threat, the commission also broached the idea of exporting water abroad in the future.

“Myanmar is rich in water resources and so there should be an ambition to export water in the future if other countries face shortages,” the commission said.

At least one MP spoke in support of the commission’s plan.

“The problems facing our water resources are insignificant when compared with land resources. However, it is true that Myanmar’s water resources have been damaged and there are shortages from time to time so the commission’s suggestions for the maintenance of these resources under a proper management scheme are appropriate,” said Sagaing MP U Myo Zaw Aung (NLD; Kawlin township).

Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than announced that parliament will forward the commission’s suggestions to the government.

Translation by Zar Zar Soe